Swaths of websites went down on Tuesday morning after an outage at the cloud computing services provider Fastly. Internet users were unable to access major news outlets, e-commerce platforms, and even government websites. Everyone from Amazon to the New York Times to the White House was affected, all thanks to one customer trying to change their settings.
At around 6:30 am ET, Fastly said it applied a “fix” to the issue, and many of the websites that went down seemed to be working again as of 9 am ET. Still, the outage highlights how dependent, centralized, and susceptible the infrastructure supporting the internet — especially cloud computing providers that the average user doesn’t directly interact with — actually is. This is at least the third time in less than a year that a problem at a large cloud computing provider has led to countless websites and apps going dark.
Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN), which maintains a network of servers that transfer content quickly from websites to users. The company, which counts Shopify, Stripe, and many media outlets as customers, promises “lightning fast delivery” and “advanced security.” The nature of such a network also means that problems can quickly spread and affect many of those customers at once. In the case of Tuesday’s incident, Fastly says it “identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions” around the globe. It took about two hours from the time the problem was identified until a fix was implemented.